Torah Weekly

For the week ending 16 July 2016 / 10 Tammuz 5776

Parshat Chukat

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The laws of the Para Aduma the red heifer are detailed. These laws are for the ritual purification of one who comes into contact with death. After nearly 40 years in the desert, Miriam dies and is buried at Kadesh. The people complain about the loss of their water supply that until now has been provided miraculously in the merit of Miriam's righteousness. Aharon and Moshe pray for the people's welfare. G-d commands them to gather the nation at Merivah and speak to a designated rock so that water will flow forth. Distressed by the people's lack of faith, Moshe hits the rock instead of speaking to it. He thus fails to produce the intended public demonstration of G-d's mastery over the world, which would have resulted had the rock produced water merely at Moshe's word. Therefore,G-d tells Moshe and Aharon that they will not bring the people into the Land.Bnei Yisrael resume their travels, but because the King of Edom, a descendant of Esav, denies them passage through his country, they do not travel the most direct route to Eretz Yisrael. When they reach Mount Hor, Aharon dies and his son Elazar is invested with his priestly garments and responsibilities. Aharon was beloved by all, and the entire nation mourns him for 30 days. Sichon the Amorite attacks Bnei Yisrael when they ask to pass through his land. As a result, Bnei Yisrael conquer the lands that Sichon had previously seized from the Amonites on the east bank of the Jordan River.


All or Nothing at All

“This is the chok (decree) of the Torah…” (19:1)

Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, managed to explain the reasons for all of the mitzvot. All but one, that is. When he came to the law of the Red Cow, despite all of his efforts he was not able to plumb its depths. He then abandoned his attempt to give reasons for all of the mitzvot, and concluded that all of his explanations were not absolutely accurate.

The question arises: Why didn’t he just admit that one mitzvah was beyond his comprehension, but all of his other reasons were still valid?

King Shlomo realized that if he could not comprehend one mitzvah, then he had understood nothing up until then as well. He realized that every single mitzvah of the Torah is interlaced with all the others, and a failure to understand one is a failure to understand any of them completely.

G-d is One — an ineffable Unity — and His Torah reflects this. It too is an ineffable unity.

Shlomo HaMelech says in the Book of Tanach called Kohelet: “I thought I could become wise, and it is beyond me. What existed is elusive and so very deep. Who can fathom it?” (7:23)

In other words, “I thought I could become wise,” and understand the meaning of every mitzvah, “and it” — the mitzvah of the Red Cow — “is beyond me.”Thus, even “what existed is elusive” — even my understanding of the mitzvot that I have examined is imperfect. For “Who can fathom” the ineffable unity of the Torah?

  • Sources: Beit HaLevi for Parshat Ki Tisa as seen in Talelei Orot

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